No pain, no gain?

As I met with my foxhole a couple weeks ago, we were talking about God leading usthrough deep waters and a question came up about God leading us to deep waters. Let that one sink in for a minute.... I know God, in His holy wisdom, uses the broken pieces of a broken world to display His glory and form Christ-likeness in His people. But could it be that a loving Father would actually direct me INTO circumstances that are so far beyond my capacity and resources that I have no choice but to rely on Him? Or consider this: How would I ever know whether I trust Him if I've never been in a situation where I have to trust Him?

As money got tight during my season of unemployment, it felt like the walls were closing in. I was concerned. No, make that worried. Scratch that - I was SCARED! Crazy thoughts were going through my head. Would I be homeless? Would I need to move in with relatives? Would I have to make arrangements for my wife while I went to find work elsewhere? Would I be hitting the re-set button at age 54? I didn't think God had abandoned me, but I could not figure out why He was making me wait so long. 

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, 
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”  -Hebrews 12:4-6

OK, OK, so maybe the situation wasn't as dire as the enemy wanted me to believe, but still - how far was God willing to take this thing and would I still be standing when He was finished?

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live!  -Hebrews 12:7-9

So here I am, a couple years removed from those events. How has my outlook and my behavior changed? I find myself less self-sufficient, more God-dependent, and more surrendered to His plans. Just because I don't understand what He's up to doesn't mean He isn't up to something good. I've gotten more thoughtful in how I pray. If I pray myself out of circumstances that were intended for my good and my growth, am I deferring the lesson that would have brought me closer to him, delaying His blessing?

They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.  -Hebrews 12:10-11

Here's the thing: I am still a work in progress. What does that mean? Until the image of Christ is fully formed in me, my patient and persistent teacher still has work to do. I'm thinking there could be more deep waters ahead....

Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.  -Hebrews 12:12-13

Scott Thompson